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Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (Haarlem 1620-1683 Amsterdam)
Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (Haarlem 1620-1683 Amsterdam)

A deer hunt

Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (Haarlem 1620-1683 Amsterdam)
A deer hunt
with initials 'P.V.' (lower right in pencil)
black chalk, brown ink framing lines
9 ½ x 15 ¼ in. (24 x 38.6 cm.)
Ralph Willett (1719-1795) (according to an inscription on the verso).
Possibly the artist Arnoldus Stevens; van der Schley et al., Amsterdam, 7 December 1795, Kunstboek A, lot 71 ('Een Italiaansch Bergagtig Landschap, gestoffeert met Jagers; vlug met zwart kryt geteekent door N. Berchem'; sold for 1 guilder together with lot 72).
Possibly Willem [?] T. Groen; Gartman, Amsterdam, 2 November 1813, Kunstboek KB [?], lot 29 ('Een boomryk Landschap, met een Hertenjagt, met zwart Kryt, door N. Berghem').
Thomas Dimsdale (1758-1823) (L. 2426).
Probably with Samuel Woodburn (1786-1853), London.
Peregrine Francis Adelbert Cust, 6th Baron Brownlow (1899-1978), Belton House, Lincolnshire; Sotheby's, London, 14 July 1926, part of lot 79 ('Stag Hunt. Black chalk. And another'; probably bought by Parsons).
with Parsons, London, Illustrated Catalogue of Original Drawings by Old Masters, 1926, no. 45; from whom purchased by I.Q. van Regteren Altena in October 1926 for 100 guilders (Inventory book: '219. t. C.P. Berchem hertenjacht').
A. Stefes, Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem: Die Zeichnungen, PhD thesis, Bern 1997, no. II/132.
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paris, Fondation Custodia, and Brussels, Bibliothèque Albert 1er, Le Cabinet d’un Amateur: Dessins flamands et hollandais des XVIe et XVIIe siècles d’une collection privée d’Amsterdam, 1976-77, no. 12, pl. 74 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).

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Lot Essay

Dated by Stefes (op. cit.) to circa 1657-58, this is one of several drawings by Berchem with similar hunting themes. It is related to the painting of A stag hunt in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (H. Potterton, Illustrated Summary Catalogue of Paintings, Dublin, 1981, p. 10; Fig. 1), although it is not so close as to be precisely preparatory. There is a group of comparable drawings in the British Museum, two of which are executed in the same crisp black chalk technique as the present work: the first shows further episodes from a deer hunt (A.M. Hind, Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish Drawings preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, London, 1915, I, no. 27), while the second represents A boar hunt (Hind, op. cit., no. 28). The composition of the latter was used, in reverse, in a painting by Berchem now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague (1659; inv. 12).

The present drawing is striking first for its Italianate quality and also for its remarkable dynamism. The figures, especially those of the dogs, are represented in a variety of poses, often with a daring degree of foreshortening, and the composition's sense of three-dimensionality is reinforced with darker strokes of chalk in the foreground, which grow lighter and lighter as the perspective recedes into the background.

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